Letter 1181

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 15/27 May 1879
Addressed to Konstantin Shilovsky
Where written Kamenka
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Shilovsky collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 307–308
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том VIII (1963), p. 217–218

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
15 мая 1879 г[ода]
Фастовская жел[езная] дор[ога], ст[анция] Каменка

Милый Костя!

А ведь Юлия Сергеевна говорила вправду, что я неблагодарный! Ведь до сих пор я ни разу не сказал тебе спасибо за ту существенную помощь, которую ты мне оказал по части «Евгения Онегина»! Собирался я к тебе заехать и провести у тебя несколько часов в Москве на Святой, — но у меня было столько неожиданных неприятностей в это время, расположение духа было до такой степени убийственное, что я по возможности прятался ото всех, дабы никому не навязывать моей хандры. Впрочем, С. А. Бернард сказала мне, что тебя не было. Вскоре я удрал из Москвы, лелея в душе план совершить неожиданный наезд в Глебово к твоим именинам. Теперь 21-го мая на носу, а мне, по разным причинам, нельзя и думать отсюда тронуться. Поэтому могу лишь письменно тебя поздравить и буду только мысленно присутствовать среди твоих именинных гостей. А очень, очень, очень хотелось бы побывать у тебя и хоть несколько дней провести в том милом обществе, среди тех милых рощей и полей, которые окружали меня в тот счастливый месяц, который я прожил в незабвенном и дорогом мне Глебове. Но знаешь что? Мне кажется, что мне не следует быть в Глебове до тех пор, пока обстоятельства не позволят мне предаваться там ничем не смущаемому наслаждению жить с милыми людьми и милой природой! Теперь оно бы смущалось очень многим. Впрочем, как бы то ни было, но я не допускаю и мысли, чтоб рано или поздно не побывать у тебя. Переехали ли Вы? В Глебове ли ты справляешь свои именины?

А я понемножку произвожу на свет новое детище (под названием: «Орлеанская Дева»), которое и имеет честь при сём рекомендоваться своему дяденьке. Племянница твоя будет готова к зиме, — но когда появится на театральных подмостках, это совершенно неизвестно.

Милый Костя! Поцелуй за меня ручку милой и доброй Марьи Константиновны; поцелуй за меня своих деток, кланяйся Глебовскому дому, саду, эстетишке; если M[ademois]elles Языковы у тебя, то и им кланяйся. Если паче чаяния напишешь мне слова 2 о том, как Вы все поживаете, то крайне обрадуешь

Твой П. Чайковский

А за «Онегина» троекратное тебе спасибо.

15 May 1879
Fastov railway line, Kamenka station

Dear Kostya!

You know, Yuliya Sergeyevna was right to say that I'm ungrateful! I mean, I haven't once thanked you yet for the essential assistance which you rendered to me in connection with Yevgeny Onegin! [1] I was planning to call on you and spend a few hours at your place in Moscow during Holy Week, but so many unexpected unpleasant things happened to me at the time and my frame of mind was so awful that I tried to hide from everyone so as not to obtrude on anyone with my low spirits [2]. Besides, S. A. Bernard [3] told me that you weren't in town. I soon left Moscow, secretly nourishing a plan to make an unexpected flying visit to Glebovo on your name-day. Now the 21st of May is fast approaching, and yet, for various reasons, I cannot even think of budging from here. That is why I can only congratulate you in writing and only in my thoughts be present among the guests at your name-day's party. Still, I would very, very, very much like to visit you and spend at least a few days in that dear company and amidst those dear groves and fields which surrounded me during that blessed month I spent at Glebovo, a place which is so unforgettable and dear to me [4]. But do you know what? It seems to me I shouldn't come to Glebovo as long as my circumstances do not allow me to indulge there in the pleasure, untroubled by anything, of living with people who are dear to me and amidst dear Nature! At present there are a great deal of things which would disturb this pleasure. Anyway, be that as it may, I will not even brook the thought that I should not come to see you sooner or later. Have you moved [to the country]? Is it at Glebovo that you will be celebrating your name-day?

As for myself, I am gradually bringing into the world a new child (entitled "The Maid of Orleans"), which herewith has the honour of introducing herself to her uncle. Your niece will be ready by winter, but it's by no means certain when she will make her appearance on the stage [5].

Dear Kostya! Kiss for me the hand of sweet and kind Maria Konstantinovna, kiss for me your children, give my regards to the Glebovo house, garden, and the aesthetics [6]. If the Mademoiselles Yazykova are staying with you, give them my regards too. If, contrary to expectation, you do drop me a couple of words about how you are all getting on, you would make me extremely happy.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

I give you my thrice-repeated thanks for Onegin [7]

Notes and References

  1. Konstantin Shilovsky had helped Tchaikovsky to draw up the initial scenario for the opera Yevgeny Onegin, and, though the composer is now believed to have been solely responsible for the libretto, Monsieur Triquet's couplets were penned by Shilovsky. The opera's premiere had taken place two months earlier, at the Moscow Maly Theatre on 17/29 March 1879, in the presence of the composer.
  2. The "unexpected unpleasant things" Tchaikovsky is referring to here were his three dramatic meetings with Antonina in Saint Petersburg and Moscow between 24 March/5 April and 5/17 April 1879. On the first occasion Antonina had burst into Anatoly's flat in Saint Petersburg (where Tchaikovsky was staying) and implored her husband to live with her again. Their subsequent meetings were less dramatic and concerned mainly the financial support which she was due to receive from Tchaikovsky, but they were no less agonising for him. See Tchaikovsky. The quest for the inner man (1993), p. 338–330, and Антонина Чайковская. История забытой жизни (1994), p. 62–63.
  3. Sofya Alekseyevna Bernard (née Golovina; d. 1920), sister of Mariya Golovina. Like her sister, she was also acquainted with Tchaikovsky.
  4. From 29 May/10 June to 25 June/7 July 1877 Tchaikovsky had stayed at Glebovo, where he completed around two-thirds of his opera Yevgeny Onegin.
  5. Tchaikovsky completed the orchestration of The Maid of Orleans in August 1879, and the opera's first performance took place at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on 13/25 February 1881.
  6. An ironical way of referring to Glebovo's atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings.
  7. Tchaikovsky wrote this note down one side of the page.